- (Photo: Walton Family Foundation)
A charity founded by the heirs of the major retail chain Walmart stand by their organization's support for a lobbying group that advocates for private school vouchers.
The Walton Family Foundation stands by its support for the Alliance for School Choice, an organization that lobbies for the advancement of alternatives to public school education.
Marc Sternberg, director of the foundation's systemic K-12 education reform focus area, told The Christian Post about the "motivation to invest in school choice."
"Access to a high quality school can lift a child out of a cycle of poverty, and all families, regardless of zip code or means, should be empowered to choose their path," said Sternberg.
"When parents can choose their school - district, charter or private - instead of having it chosen for them, families and communities win."
Last month, a story by The Washington Post found that the foundation gave the Alliance approximately $6 million in donations, which effectively doubled the Alliance's budget.
"Currently, about 300,000 K-12 students around the country are paying for private schools with public tax dollars, according to the Alliance for School Choice. The group says it wants to double that number," reported Lyndsey Layton of Washington Post.
Sternberg of the foundation told CP that the donations to the Alliance "support their work on a federal and regional level to expand private school choice for families across the country."
"The foundation's investments support ASC efforts to work with parents to identify the best school option for their child, schools to ensure that all options are high-quality and advocates to create and expand more private school choice programs," said Sternberg.
Groups like Americans United for Separation of Church and State have taken issue with the support, with Simon Brown of AUSCS writing that the Walton Family is launching a "war on public education."
Brown wrote about the issues of vouchers, arguing in a piece on AUSCS's blog "Wall of Separation" about the apparent problems found in various voucher programs across the nation.
"Things haven't worked out real well in Wisconsin, where studies showed students in Milwaukee and Racine (the only districts currently eligible for vouchers), scored lower than their public school peers in both reading and math in 2012," wrote Brown.
"Louisiana's voucher program is a mess too. Some schools there aren't properly tracking the state funds they receive, including a Christian school that used voucher money to pay its sponsoring church for bus and facilities use."